First to market Sync on demand- for small business

The PureInbox team: Pandora Lam, Ryan Akerboom, Sam Huang, Brian Henker, Hoyin Li and John Mah

Sam C. Huang’s business took him from Edmonton across the globe. While in China and Taiwan to market his own software, he realized that although he used a smart mobile device, he didn’t have access to some information back home.
“We’re in the world of communication and I don’t have it.” It took the frustration of not having all his information at his fingertips to have a sudden realization. “So, why don’t we just build something?”
What Huang needed was for all of his data to be synchronized regardless of where he was and what device he was using. “When we step away from our desktops, we only have a snapshot of our world.” A picture is still—static in nature, not dynamic—and Huang treasures the sense of being connected.
“We think we have total access… we have our contacts and our calendar. We don’t get the whole thing. We don’t have everything in our palm (of our hand).”
As a businessman, Huang saw having information in multiple places at different points in time as a false sense of connectivity. “It’s unproductive. It doesn’t have to be that way.”
So, for a couple of years, Huang carried a Windows mobile device using ActiveSync, an application developed by Microsoft. His attitude at that time: Who needs a Blackberry? “But then I switched over and sold myself to the dark side,” he says jokingly.
Even then, what he thought he really needed was only affordable to larger organizations. “Enterprise people have access to all kinds of technology and it’s expensive.” He adds that Research in Motion’s BES (Blackberry Enterprise Service) is used by banks, FBI and government requiring staff, server hardware and software, and needs to be maintained. “BES also charges you through the roof. It doesn’t make sense for small companies; it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars—very expensive.”
And, while Huang says RIM offers a consumer version called Blackberry Internet Service, he feels it’s not adequate for today’s small business needs.
Huang knew something needed to be done, so he created Syncamatic, selecting the Blackberry as his mobile platform of choice. “No sense doing another MobileMe,” he says referring to Apple’s answer to synchronizing data. “Why would you even try?
Syncamatic will use a totally wireless solution that maintains synchronization of the data through the Amazon cloud computing server.” It will not only allow users to free themselves from their USB shackles, it will also be platform independently. It will allow most Blackberry models running OS 4.6 to talk to a Mac and a PC over the air… to synchronize, not through a USB cable, but over the air.
“It has never available before to consumers.”
Even RIM couldn’t do that, Huang states. In fact, just two months ago, RIM released its software to connect a Macintosh to a Blackberry—via cable.
Huang’s Unique Selling Proposition (USP) for Syncamatic is the automatic way to synchronize, protect and transfer data for the mobile user. His program will also be affordable as both a free and a premium version. The free version will allow you to sync on demand but you would need to log in to the application and select the option to perform the synchronization.
“It’s a manual process. The secret—or what you give up—is that below the button, there will be some advertising to offset some development costs.”
The premium, or commercial pay version as Huang calls it, differs in the sense that the program sits in the background. If you make changes on one device, it checks on a regular basis and will automatically update in the background. It constantly checks both ways: For example, if you simultaneously punch in a contact on the desktop and add a calendar event on your phone, Syncamatic will bring them all together.
“It’s simple: Every device will look up to the cloud. The program will ask ‘What’s the latest change? What am I missing?’ Then it will update each device.”
The product is currently in Private Beta and the consumer downloadable version was scheduled to be available at Syncamatic.com just prior to Christmas. “This version will be free. They can download it for free and use it for free—forever.”
Huang, 31, downplays his humble beginnings as well as his success. His family came to Edmonton before he was 18. He attended Jasper Place Composite High School and studied general science at the University of Alberta. In 1997, he took home a Business Chamber Trophy and was recognized as the Best Student in Computer Programming.
His current venture, Pure Inbox, was incorporated in 2008. Prior to the development of Syncamatic, the company offered an application that allowed you to use your existing phone just like Gmail. Although PureInbox is no longer accepting new sign-ups for that app, it continues to support existing users.
Huang’s original claim to fame was his first start-up five years prior, as president and CTO of Gennux Microsystems. In a short time, it became one of Alberta’s fastest growing technology companies, providing unique cost-effective IT solutions and systems to businesses, as well as a unique anti-spam product.
In 2005, the company took home the Alberta VenturePrize and was identified as one of the “global up-and-coming companies” to watch. Huang was heralded as one of rising stars in the Alberta IT industry.
Pure Inbox is happy to call the Edmonton Research Park home. “They have the services we need, so we can focus on what we need to do.”
The landlord is equally happy about the success of its tenant. “I am thrilled that Syncamatic, a product developed at the Edmonton Research Park, is being sold and distributed around the globe,” says Candace Brinsmead, vice-president of technology.
The majority of staff is also from Edmonton. Having traveled to China, Huang knows how cheap it is to hire developers from there, but prefers to stay local. He is impressed with the quality of work being performed by graduates of the University of Alberta, his Alma Mater.
One recent hire is Ryan Akerboom, 23, who graduated with distinction from the computer engineering, software co-op program. “I’m happy to be working here. It’s a relaxed atmosphere and it’s the exact type of thing we studied for.”
Huang is also excited about the future and is confident that with Syncamatic, Pure Inbox is heading in the right direction. “We’re the first there—first to market.”
“Anyone, even the Chinese, can make phones. Right now, it’s about the apps. They are beginning to flood the market. We have 10 flashlights… we’re in the app world 1.0 era.” In the next few years it will be contextual, location based—not about dumb apps but rather about apps and services.
“You need services to drive the application. Everyone is watching Apple and Blackberry.” And Syncamatic will be right there with them.
Huang is heading off to Barcelona in February as part of the Alberta contingent to world mobile conference where Pure InBox will be setting up a booth on an international stage. “I’m excited to see how the European market will react.” √

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One Comment on “First to market Sync on demand- for small business”

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